What to do when someone tells you to get over it?

In this article we will discuss the common experience of having been told by our friends, peers, family, and partners to simply “get over ” something. 

We will attempt to understand why they say and what makes getting over something so hard. 

We will also take a look at the various things you can do to help yourself when someone tells you to “get over it”.

What to do when someone tells you to get over it?

When someone tells you to get over yourself or the situation that is causing so much distress, it can be a painful experience. 

In brief, some of the things you can take to cope when someone tells you to get over it include:

  • Not taking it personally
  • Address what you are feeling to them and to yourself
  • Establish boundaries
  • Consider where they might be coming from
  • Evaluate your life
  • Chose to move forward

Many of us struggle with challenges of our everyday life and in some cases, these challenges are a result of things that have happened a long time ago- events and experiences that cause much emotional turmoil.

You could be struggling with a past relationship that you had to let go of years ago, or perhaps the regret of not doing enough or saying the right things. What you are struggling with could be related to a traumatic event like losing someone you love or abuse as a child (or an adult).

A lot of these unfortunate experiences can impact the way you see yourself, others, and the world. It can cause much distress and anxiety which can take over your life in the form of psychological issues and disorders. 

Much of these problems tend to affect your relationships, your studies, and your career. It can even aggravate enough to take control over your day to day activities and your decision making. 

It is when the impact of your distress is noticed by other people or by yourself to the point that you choose to seek support from others by opening up, you can come face to face with someone who ignorantly tells you to “get over it”.

When they tell you that or some variation of it like “You can’t live like this”, “You have to push through”, or “you have to try harder”; it can be painful and you might feel more lonely in your pain than you were. 

In fact you might even get angry at the fact they make it seem so easy or like you aren’t doing enough or somehow it is your fault why you are in this rut.

When someone tells you to get over it, it is best to remember why they are saying this and why it does help or work to get you to feel better and heal. 

Why they say it

There are a few possible reasons why people tend to push the idealistic notion of “if you fall down, get up and keep going”. Most of them have to do with culture and the level of comfort people have to do with vulnerability. 

Society’s standards of functioning people are people who keep being productive with their lives, it is the ideal of many cultures and countries. The idea of resilience and strength is celebrated but many cultures do not teach people how to be resilient or how to offer support to people who aren’t.

So when people are less than strong, productive, and perfect; vulnerability and limitations are shunned upon and many people do not know what to do when someone is open and vulnerable about their struggles. 

They might react in ways that are not empathetic, they might try to paint over the pain with distractions, a pat on the back, or worse- compare your struggles without someone else who has it worse and tell you to get over it. 

Most people are not really emotionally intelligent and are often uncomfortable with vulnerability or emotions in general. They can react with tough love when that happens as they tell you to “keep pushing”.

Sometimes, when people tell you to get over something their intentions could be good- they see us struggling and hope that we experience some sort of relief. In fact, we might be engaging in behaviors that appear dysfunctional in some way, and they want us not to cause ourselves any harm. 

For example, if we have experienced loss of a loved one and we refuse to engage with the world outside because of our grief for the first few months we might receive support and understanding. However, if it’s been a few years and we are still in the same place emotionally, our well-intentioned friends and loved ones may suggest we get over it.

So considering that it could be tough love, or someone else’s discomfort with vulnerability, or well-intended nudge to heal- why is it that most of us feel terrible when we hear it?

Let us take a look at why it never works when someone tells you to “get over it”.

Why it never works

It doesn’t matter which place or what intention people have when they tell us to get over something- the truth is, it doesn’t work. 

We are left to feel worse when that happens- we feel more alone, less understood, and we feel ashamed and guilty for not being able to do something that seems so easy for people to say.

The reason it does not work is because of the following reasons:

  • What you are feeling and experiencing is more real than their superficial advice to help you. Pain and life experiences are subjective- what is awful and life-crushing to you might not be for someone else. 
  • “Getting over it” is suppressing it and that is never a healthy thing to do. The more we try to get over something by pretending that it does not hurt us or eat us away at night when we are alone, the worse it becomes- we become disconnected from ourselves and the world.
  • “Get over it” simply means “Can you deal with it faster?” When you rush to heal or move on, you disregard the truth of how you have been affected and what it is doing to your life. When someone tells you to get over it, rushing is never really an authentic way to heal- you might feel like you’re doing a good job by healing but there are still parts of you that were never really addressed and this leads you to a recurring spiral of hurt and pain when there are triggers. 
  • Their advice of “getting over it” does not include the how. Moving forward from something in a healthy way takes time and mindful effort, it takes changes in lifestyles, the way you think and handle emotions- it’s a lot of work and their advice does not seem to encompass that.

Things you can do when someone tells you to “get over it”

Try not to take it personally

Remember, it is not your fault that they are not able to respond in helpful and empathetic ways. It is also not your fault that you are struggling right now so I am mindful that you do not internalise what they are saying when they tell you to get over it. 

Address what you are feelings

Take a moment to reflect on what you are feeling and what they’re words and their reactions made you think about yourself and your situation. The intent here is to identify how you felt and express these feelings to yourself and to them. 

Establish boundaries

If the other person responds in a cruel or hurtful way, make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable. Explain that if they cannot be supportive, they should refrain from commenting or remove themselves from the situation.

Consider where they are coming from

Oftentimes, our loved ones tend to be harsh with us in an act of tough love- it is not the most healthy way to support someone but often it is all that they can manage. 

When they tell you to get over it and highlight how terribly affected you are, it could be time that you consider getting help.

Evaluate your life

If what you are going through is affecting your life- your relationships, your job, your day to day demands like eating, sleeping, hygiene- the distress might have progressed to something that spiralling out of control. 

Take time to reflect and evaluate your life and how this situation is affecting you and your health and whether this issue is getting in the way of you living a satisfying life. 

Choose to move forward

If, after you have evaluated your current condition, and have decided that something must be done- seek out the help you need. You can reach out to a physician if you notice physical symptoms or a therapist to help you understand and process your emotions. 

Be mindful of the fact that you aren’t simplifying “getting over it” but rather you, on your own terms, are choosing to move through it towards a better life.

Conclusion

In this article we have attempted to understand what people mean when they tell us to “get over” something and why they do it. We also have taken time to understand why it never works and what you can do as a response to this superficial advice.

 

References

www.psychologytoday.com

Everydaypower.com

Thoughtcatalog.com

Frequently asked questions related to “When someone tells you to get over it”

What do you say when someone tells you something personal?

When someone tells you something personal address a few things:

  • Acknowledge that it might have been difficult for them to open up
  • Acknowledge their courage
  • Thank them for trusting you 
  • Ask them if there is anything you can do to support them.

What to say when someone is telling you their problems?

When someone is distressed and telling you their problems you can”

  • Start by sharing their distress by empathising with them
  • Let them know that it is a safe space for them to talk about it further if they want to 
  • Let them know that it is okay to cry
  • Let them know that they can choose whether they want to talk or just sit in silence

What should you not say to someone who is suffering?

Things you shouldn’t say to someone who is suffering include:

  • Don’t Tell Them to Try Harder.
  • Don’t Oversimplify or dismiss their pain
  • Don’t Express Disbelief.
  • Avoid Blame.
  • Don’t try to rationalise
  • Don’t compare their suffering with others
  • Don’t tell them it’s their fault that they are in pain even if it might be

Is it OK to ignore someone who hurt you?

If someone is threatening you or physically abusing you, don’t ignore it! Report the abusive behavior to someone in authority. 

If the hurt you have experienced is more emotional, then choosing to cut them out of your life can be a way to deal with it provided that you do it to protect yourself or to give yourself the time to heal. 

Is ignoring someone manipulative?

It’s fine to take a break to reflect on an argument or to tell someone who deeply hurt you that you no longer wish to speak to them. You can even choose to cut them out of your life should you see it fit. But ignoring a person to punish them or make them fearful is manipulative and this pattern can do you more harm than good.

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